Editorial, Alternative Press Review
The mainstream U.S. media often pride themselves on their "freedom" from any
substantive restraints on their ability to let North Americans know what is
happening throughout the world. Indeed, mainstream U.S. journalists are
quick to point out when media in other nations merely parrot ruling party
lines, often making accusations of "propaganda" whenever their "news"
contradicts our "news." Yet, the idea that the mainstream U.S. media remain
willing slaves to their Washington and corporate masters is nowhere more
obvious than in their celebrations of death and destruction rained down upon
official U.S. enemies in times of war.
Even while U.S. bombing continues to devastate Iraq--with the blessings of
the U.S. media--in a nearly decade-long campaign of war and sanctions (which
has resulted in the deaths of well over a million human beings, including
about 750,000 children), these same media have also become cheerleaders for
the NATO bombing of Yugoslavia.
Just as foreign media often spout propaganda which favors their own
governments while demonizing the enemies of those governments, mainstream
U.S. media predominantly take their cues from the ruling U.S. administration
and from major corporate interests. The propaganda battle over Kosovo is
just one more in an endless line of examples in which this rule is
Propaganda, foreign and domestic, achieves its great effectiveness through
several techniques, but primarily through a decontextualization of conflicts
in which the favored party is portrayed positively and its "enemies" are
portrayed negatively--at the same time in which large portions of the history
and meanings of these conflicts are intentionally forgotten or obscured.
Propaganda, disguised as "news," is always framed within the terms of the
favored party's perspective, and nearly everything is interpreted through
this inverting lens. The favored party's statements are almost always
allowed to stand at face value, with little or no questioning, while
statements from the "enemy" face intense skepticism, questioning or even
outright disbelief. The interests, goals and values of the favored party are
automatically assumed to be valid and correct, while those of the "enemy"
are routinely considered invalid, corrupt or evil. Examples and stories
supporting the interests of the favored party are sought out, dramatized and
repeated over and over, while any counterexamples or contrasting stories are
ignored, glossed over, or (when they just can't be ignored) reinterpreted in
ways which minimize their impact. And perhaps most powerfully of all, the
history leading up to the development of complex conflicts is selectively
forgotten, rewritten and falsified. This is how propaganda functions in
foreign nations. And this is how propaganda continues to flourish in U.S.
But people don't always believe propaganda. Some people are naturally
skeptical. Others have learned from past experience that all governments and
all major corporations tell lies whenever it is convenient or profitable for
them to do so (which can often be most of the time). They are people just
like you, people who want to know more the world than their governments, and
state or corporate media, want them to know.
So what exactly is missing from the current mainstream U.S. media coverage
of the NATO war against Yugoslavia? Just ask yourself why it is that the
mainstream media provide so little information about the following questions
(when they aren't actively trying to evade them)?
+ What is the relevant history of the conflict between ethnic Albanians
and ethnic Serbs, including the history of Muslim/Christian conflicts
in the Balkans?
You won't find the answers to these questions in the mainstream media.
You'll have to look to alternative media, and especially to the alternative
press, in order to find out what is really happening in the Balkans. It's
all up to you. Please keep turning these pages.
+ What is the relevant history of "ethnic cleansing," including its
practice by all sides in the NATO/Yugoslav war, especially the
notorious history of the U.S. extermination of Native Americans and the
German extermination of European Jews, Romanis, and others? Why is
ethnic cleansing permissable when practiced by the U.S. and its client
states? Why was it permissable when Croatia (with U.S. support) drove
hundreds of thousands of ethnic Serbs out of the Krajina region not
that long ago?
+ What are the real geopolitical and economic interests of the dominant
countries driving the NATO bombing, the U.S. and Germany? What is the
relationship of NATO's expanding role to the decline of the United
Nations and of international law?
+ What role did the IMF, the World Bank, Germany and the U.S. play in the
break-up of Yugoslavia? Why did the U.S. and Germany both desire a
devastating end to the multi-ethnic, socialist Yugoslav experiment?
+ What justifies the extensive bombing of civilian targets by NATO? Why
does NATO refuse to take any responsibility for the death and
dislocation of both Serbs and ethnic Albanians caused by its bombing
campaign? Why does the U.S. media avoid explaining that NATO "cluster
bombs" are actually anti-personnel weapons that are increasingly being
dropped on civilian targets? Why does the mainstream media avoid any
searching discussion of the U.S. use of depleted uranium ordnance
against the Yugoslavs?
+ Why has the U.S. mainstream media minimized or ignored the recent
indictment of President Clinton, the other heads of NATO states, and
the architects of the NATO bombardment for war crimes in the World
Court of Justice?
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